Tải bản đầy đủ

The highgrader


TheProjectGutenbergEBookofTheHighgrader,byWilliamMacLeodRaine
ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith
almostnorestrictionswhatsoever.Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor
re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded
withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org

Title:TheHighgrader
Author:WilliamMacLeodRaine
Illustrator:D.C.Hutchison
ReleaseDate:September12,2007[EBook#22583]
Language:English

***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEHIGHGRADER***

ProducedbyRogerFrankandtheOnlineDistributed
ProofreadingTeamathttp://www.pgdp.net

KILMENY'SALERTEYESSWEPTAGAINANDAGAINTHETRAIL
LEADINGUPTHEGULCH.HEDIDNOTINTENDTOBECAUGHT
NAPPINGBYTHEOFFICERS.Frontispiece,p.67

KILMENY'SALERTEYESSWEPTAGAINANDAGAINTHETRAILLEADINGUPTHEGULCH.
HEDIDNOTINTENDTOBECAUGHTNAPPINGBYTHEOFFICERS.
Frontispiece,p.67

THE
HIGHGRADER
BY

WILLIAMMacLEODRAINE


AUTHOROF"WYOMING,""RIDGWAYOFMONTANA,""BUCKYO'CONNOR,"
"ATEXASRANGER,""MAVERICKS,""BRANDBLOTTERS,"
"CROOKEDTRAILSANDSTRAIGHT,"
"THEVISIONSPLENDID,""THEPIRATEOFPANAMA,"
"ADAUGHTEROFTHEDONS,"ETC.

ILLUSTRATIONSBY

D.C.HUTCHISON

G.W.DILLINGHAMCOMPANY
PUBLISHERSNEWYORK

COPYRIGHT,1915,BY
G.W.DILLINGHAMCOMPANY
TheHighgrader

Contents
CHAPTER

I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
VIII
IX


X
XI

PAGE

THECAMPERS
MR.VERINDERCOMPLAINS
NIGHTFISHING
FUGITIVESFROMJUSTICE
"I'MHERE,NEIGHBOR"
LORDFARQUHARGIVESMOYAAHINT
MOYA'SHIGHWAYMAN
THEBADPENNYAGAIN
"ANOUTANDOUTROTTER"
OLDFRIENDS
ABLIZZARD

11
18
28
44
56
71
84
102
113
123
141


XII
XIII
XIV
XV
XVI
XVII
XVIII
XIX
XX
XXI
XXII
XXIII
XXIV
XXV

OUTOFTHESTORMAMAN
SHOTTOTHECOREWITHSUNLIGHT
"PROVEIT!...PROVEIT!"
AHIGHGRADER—INPRINCIPLE
ONEMAID—TWOMEN
AWARNING
TWOAMBUSHES
MR.VERINDERISTREATEDTOASURPRISE
COLTERTAKESAHAND
SPIRITRAPPING?
THEACIDTEST
CAPTAINKILMENYRETIRES
TWOINABUCKET
HOMINGHEARTS

157
170
180
189
201
218
237
243
250
264
274
284
291
309

Illustrations
PAGE

Kilmeny'salerteyessweptagainandagainthe
trailleadingupthegulch.Hedidnotintendtobe
caughtnappingbytheofficers....Frontispiece
"He'shookedprettyfast.takeyourtimeabout
gettinghimintoyournet.Thesebigfellowsare
likelytosquirmaway."
Theyrodethroughaworldshottothecorewith
sunlight.Thesnowsparkledandgleamedwithit.

67

33
177


THEHIGHGRADER
PRELUDE
Ayoungidealist,ætatfour,wassellingstarstoputinthesky.Shehadcutthem
with her own scissors out of red tissue paper, so that she was able to give a
guarantee.
"Butyou'llhavetogettheladderoutofourbedroomtoput'emupwiv,"shetold
purchasershonestly.
Thechildwasawilddarkcreature,slimandelfish,withaqueerlittlesmilethat
flashedsuddenasanAprilsun.
Itwasevening,onthepromenadedeckofanoceanliner.Theseawaslikeglass
andtheswellhardlyperceptible.Landwasinsight,avagueunevenlinerising
mist-likeonthehorizon.BeforemorningtheVictorianwouldberunningupthe
St. Lawrence. Even for the most squeamish the discomforts of the voyage lay
behind.Apleasantgoodfellowshipwasintheair.Insomeittooktheformofan
idlecontentment,avagueregretthattiesnewlyformedmustsosoonbebroken.
In others it found an expression more buoyant. Merry voices of shuffleboard
playersdriftedforward.Youngcouplespacedthedeckandleanedovertherailto
watch the phosphorescent glow. The open windows of the smoking-room gave
forththetinkleofglassesandthelowrattleofchips.Allsoundsblendedintoa
mellowharmony.
"What's your price on a whole constellation with a lovers' moon thrown in?"
inquiredayoungmanlounginginadeckchair.
Thevendorofstarslookedathiminherdirectseriousfashion."IfinkItan'tsell
youall'at,butI'llmakeyouamoontogowivthestars—notaweallytwulyone,
jus'amake-believemoon,"sheaddedinawhisper.
An irritated voice made itself heard. "Steward, have you seen that child
anywhere? The naughty little brat has run away again—and I left her only a
minute."


Thedealerincelestialsuppliescametoearth.
"I'mgoin'tobesmacked,"sheannouncedwithgraveconviction.
Anunvoicedconspiracyformeditselfinstantlyinherbehalf.Aladyinasteamer
chairgatheredthechildundertheshelterofherrug.Aneight-year-oldyoungster
knotted his fists valiantly. The young man who had priced a constellation
consideredthechancesofacutting-outexpedition.
"Sheshouldhavebeeninbedlongago.Ijuststeppedouttospeaktoourroom
steward and when I came back she was gone," the annoyed governess was
explaining.
Discoverywasimminent.Thevictimpreparedherselffortheworst.
"Idon'tcare,"sheprotestedtoherprotector."It'seversonicertostayup,an'ifit
wasn'trunnin'awayitwouldbesomefingelse."
Atthisbitofphilosophytheloungerchuckled,roseswiftly,andinterceptedthe
dragon.
"When do I get that walk you promised me, Miss Lupton? What's the matter
withrightnow?"
The governess was surprised, since it was the first she had heard of any walk.
Flatteredshewas,butstillfaithfultoduty.
"I'mlookingforMoya.Sheknowsshemustalwaysgotoherroomafterteaand
staythere.Thenaughtychildranaway."
"She'sallright.IsawhersnuggledunderarugwithMrs.Curtisnottwominutes
ago.Justaturnortwointhislovelynight."
Drawn by the magnet of his manhood, Moya slipped into the chair beside the
eight-year-old.
"I'dkickherdarnedshinsifshespankedme,"boastedheoftheeightyears.
Moyaadmiredhiscouragetremendously.Herdarkeyesfollowedtheretreating
figureofhergoverness."I'm'fraid."
"Hm!BetIwouldn'tbe.Course,you'reonlyagirl."
Hiscompanionpleadedguiltywithasighandslippedherhandintohisbeneath
thesteamerrug.
"It'showwidtobeadirl,"sheconfided.


"BetIwouldn'tbeone."
"Youtalksofunny."
"Don'teither.I'maNamerican.Tha'showwealltalk."
"I'm Irish. Mith Lupton says 'at's why I'm so naughty," the sinner confessed
complacently.
Confidenceswereexchanged.Moyaexplainedthatshewasanorphanandhad
nobody but a man called Guardy, and he was not her very own. She lived in
Sussex and had a Shetland pony. Mith Lupton was horrid and was always
smackingher.Whenshesaidherprayersshealwayssaidinsofttoherself,"But
pleathe, God, don't bless Mith Lupton." They were taking a sea voyage for
Moya'shealth,andshehadbeenseasickjusttheteentiestweentiestbit.Jackon
his part could proudly affirm that he had not missed a meal. He lived in
Colorado on a ranch with his father, who had just taken him to England and
Irelandtovisithisfolks.Hedidn'tlikeEnglandonelittlebit,andhehadtoldhis
cousinNedsoandtheyhadhadafight.AshewasproceedingtotelldetailsMiss
Luptonreturnedfromherstroll.
ShebroughtMoyatoherfeetwithajerk."Mygoodness!Whowillyoupickup
next?Nowwalkalongtoyourroom,missie."
"Yes,MithLupton."
"Haven'tItoldyounottotalktostrangers?"
"Heisn'tstwanger.He'sJack,"announcedMoyastanchly.
"I'llteachyoutorunawayassoonasmybackisturned.Youshouldhavebeen
inbedanhourago."
"Itan'tunbuttonmyself."
"Alikelyreason.Movealong,now."
Having been remiss in her duty, Miss Lupton was salving her conscience by
beingextraseverenow.Shehurriedherchargeaway.
SuddenlyMoyastopped."Pleathe,myhan'erchif."
"Haveyoulostit?Whereisit?"
"Ihaditinthechair."
"Thenrunbackandgetit."


Moya's thin white legs flashed along the deck. Like a small hurricane she
descended upon the boy. Her arms went around his neck and for an instant he
wassmotheredinherembrace,darkringletsflyingabouthisfairhead.
"Dood-night,Jack."
A kiss fell helter-skelter on his cheek and she was gone, tugging a little
handkerchieffromherpocketassheran.
Theboydidnotseeheragain.Beforeshewasupheandhisfatherlefttheboat
at Quebec. Jack wondered whether she had been smacked, after all. Once or
twiceduringthedayhethoughtofher,buttheexcitementofnewsightseffaced
fromhismindthefirstromancehislifehadknown.
ButfornearlyaweekMoyaaddedacodicilsilentlytoherprayer."And,God,
pleatheblessJack."


CHAPTERI
THECAMPERS
Inside the cabin a man was baking biscuits and singing joyously, "It's a Long,
Long Way to Tipperary." Outside, another whistled softly to himself while he
arranged his fishing tackle. From his book he had selected three flies and was
attachingthemtotheleader.Nearesttherodheputaroyalcoachman,nexttoita
bluequill,andattheendagingerquill.
Thecook,havingputhisbiscuitsintheoven,filledthedoorway.Hewasabig,
strong-setman,withafaceofleather.Rolled-upsleevesshowedknottedbrown
armswhitetothewristswithflour.Hiseyeswerehardandsteady,butfromthe
corners of them innumerable little wrinkles fell away and crinkled at times to
mirth.
"Firstcalltodinnerinthedining-car,"heboomedoutinaheavybass.
Two men lounging under a cottonwood beside the river showed signs of life.
Oneofthemwasscarcelymorethanaboy,perhapstwenty,apleasantamiable
youthwithaweakchinandeyesthatheldnosteel.Hiscompanionwasnearer
fortythanthirty,ahard-facedcitizenwhochewedtobaccoandsaidlittle.
"Where you going to fish to-night, Crumbs?" the cook asked of the man busy
withthetackle.
"ThinkI'lltryuptheriver,Colter—startinabovetheNarrowsandworkdown,
mebbe.Whereyougoing?"
"MefortheMeadows.I'mafterthebigfellows.GoingtohangtheIndiansignon
themwithasilverdoctorandaJockScott.Thekidheregothisthree-pounderon
aJockScott."


ThemanwhohadbeencalledCrumbsputhisrodagainstthesideofthehouse
andwashedhishandsinatinpanrestingonastump.Hewasaslenderyoung
fellowwithlean,muscularshouldersandthebloomofmanydesertsunsonhis
cheeksandneck.
"GoingtotryaJockScottmyselfafteritgetsdark."
Theboywhohadcomeupfromtheriver'sbankgrinned."NowI'veshownyou
ladshowtodoityou'llallbecatchingwhales."
"Onceisahappenstance,twicemakesahabit.Doitagain,Curly,andwe'llhail
youkingoftheriver,"Colterpromised,bringingtothetablearoundwhichthey
wereseatingthemselvesafryingpanfulloftroutdonetoacrispbrown."Getthe
coffee,Mosby.There'sbeerintheicebox,kid."
They ate in their shirtsleeves, camp fashion, on an oil cloth scarred with the
marksleftbymanyhotdishes.Theybroughttodinnertheappetitesofoutdoors
menwhohadwhippedforhoursaturbidstreamunderanAugustsun.Theirtalk
wasstrongandcrisp,afterthefashionoftheminingWest.Itcouldnotbeprinted
withoutediting,yetinthatatmosphereitwaswithoutoffense.Thereisatimefor
allthings,evenfortheelementaltalkoffrontiersmenonaholiday.
Dinnerfinished,thefishermenlolledonthegrassandsmoked.
A man cantered out of the patch of woods above and drew up at the cabin,
disposinghimselfforleisurelygossip.
"Evening,gentlemen.Heardthelatest?"Hedrewamatchacrosshischapsand
litthecigarettehehadrolled.
"We'llknowafteryou'vetolduswhatitis,"Coltersuggested.
"The Gunnison country ce'tainly is being honored, boys. A party of effete
BritishersarestayingattheLodge.Gotinlastnight.Iseenthemwhentheygot
off the train—me lud and me lady, three young ladies that grade up A1, a
Johnnieboywithaneyeglass,andanotherladwholookslikeonemanfromthe
groundup.Also,andmoreover,there'sacook,ahawsswrangler,ahiredgirlto
buttontheladiesuptheback,andavalleychaptosay'Yes,sir,coming,sir,'to
thedude."
"Yougotitalldownlikeabook,Steve,"grinnedCurly.
"Anynames?"askedColter.
"Namestoburn,"returnedthenative."Awholeherdofnames,honesttoGod.


Mostanyof'emhasfiveorsix,thewaytheDenverPosttellsit.Me,Ican'tkeep
mindofsomanyfancybrands.I'llgiveyoutheABCofit.Theoldpartiesare
LordJamesandLadyJimFarquhar,leastwaysI heardoneof theyoungladies
callherLadyJim.ThedudehasVerinderburntonabouteighttrunks,s'elpme.
Thenthere'saMissDwightandaMissJoyceSeldon—and,oh,yes!aCaptain
Kilmeny,andanHonorableMissKilmeny,byginger."
Colter flashed a quick look at Crumbs. A change had come over that young
man'sface.Hisblueeyeshadgrownhardandfrosty.
"It'saplumbwasteofmoneytotakeanewspaperwhenyou'rearound,Steve,"
drawled Colter, in amiable derision. "Happen to notice the color of the ladies'
eyes?"
The garrulous cowpuncher was on the spot once more. "Sure, I did, leastways
oneofthem.IwanttotellyouladsthatMissJoyceSeldonistheprettiestskirt
thateverhitthisneckofthewoods—andhereyes,say,they'relikepansies,soft
anddeepandkindervelvety."
Thefishermenshouted.Theirmirthwasheartyanduncontained.
"Gotoit,Steve.Tellussomemore,"theydemandedjoyously.
Crumbs,generallytheleaderinallthecampfun,hadnotjoinedinthelaughter.
Hehadbeendrawingonhiswadersandbucklingonhiscreel.Nowheslipped
theloopofthelandingnetoverhishead.
"Wewantafullbillofparticulars,Steve.Yougobackandsizeuptheeyesofthe
ladylordandtheotherfemaleBritishers,"orderedCurlygayly.
"Go yore own self, kid. I ain't roundin' up trouble for no babe just out of the
cradle,"retortedthegrinningrider."What'syorehurry,Crumbs?"
Theyoungmanaddressedhadstartedawaybutnowturned."Nohurry,Ireckon,
butI'mgoingfishing."
Stevechuckled."You'reheadedinabeelineforOldManTrouble.TheJohnnie
boy up at the Lodge is plumb sore on this outfit. Seems that you lads raised
ructions last night and broken his sweet slumbers. He's got the kick of a
governmentmulecoming.Whycan'tyouwildInjunsbehaveproper?"
"We only gave Curly a chapping because he let the flapjacks burn," returned
Crumbswithasmile."Yousee,he'scomeofagemost,Curlyhas.He'doughtto
beresponsiblenow,butheain't.Sowegavehimwhatwascomingtohim."


"Well,youexplainthattoMr.Verinderifheseesyou.He'ssureonhishindlaigs
aboutit."
"Iexpecthe'llgetoveritintime,"Crumbssaiddryly."Well,so-long,boys.Good
fishingto-night."
"Sametoyou,"theycalledafterhim.
"Someman,Crumbs,"commentedSteve.
"He'llstandtheacid,"agreedColterbriefly.
"What's his last name? I ain't heard you lads call him anything but Crumbs. I
reckonthat'sanickname."
Curly answered the question of the cowpuncher. "His name 's Kilmeny—Jack
Kilmeny. His folks used to live across the water. Maybe this Honorable Miss
Kilmenyandherbrotheraresomekinofhis."
"Youdon'tsay!"
"Course I don't know about that. His dad came over here when he was a wild
youngcolt.Gotintosometroubleathome,thewayIheardit.Boughtaranch
outhereandmarried.HisfamilywashighmogulsinEngland—or,maybe,itwas
Ireland. Anyhow, they didn't like Mrs. Kilmeny from the Bar Double C ranch.
Ain'tthatthewayofit,Colter?"
The impassive gaze of the older man came back from the rushing river. "You
knowsomuchaboutit,Curly,I'llnotbuttinwithanymoremisinformation,"he
answeredwithobvioussarcasm.
Curly flushed. "I'd ought to know. Jack's father and mine were friends, so's he
andme."
"HowcomeyoutocallhimCrumbs?"
"That'sajoke,Steve.Jack'snoordinaryrip-roaring,hell-raisin'miner.Heknows
what'swhat.That'swhywecallhimCrumbs—becausehe'sfinebred.Pun,see.
Finebred—crumbs.Getit?"
"SureIgetit,kid.Iain'tnoEnglishman.Youdon'tneedatwo-by-fourtopound
ajoshintomycocoanut,"theriderremonstrated.


CHAPTERII
MR.VERINDERCOMPLAINS
JackKilmenyfollowedthepathwaywhichwoundthroughthewoodsalongthe
bank of the river. Occasionally he pushed through a thick growth of young
willowsorduckedbeneaththetopstrandofaneglectedwirefence.
Beyondthetreeslayaclearing.Atthebackofthis,facingtheriver,wasalarge
fishinglodgebuiltoflogsandfinishedartisticallyinrusticstyle.Itwasatwostorybuildingspreadoveragooddealofgroundspace.Awideporchranround
thefrontandbothsides.Upontheporchwereamaninanarmchairandagirl
seatedonthetopstepwithherheadagainstthecornerpost.
AvoicehailedKilmeny."Isay,myman."
Thefishermanturned,discoveredthathewasthepartyaddressed,andwaited.
"Comehere,you!"Themaninthearmchairhadtakenthecigarfromhismouth
andwasbeckoningtohim.
"Meaningme?"inquiredKilmeny.
"OfcourseImeanyou.WhoelsecouldImean?"
The fisherman drew near. In his eyes sparkled a light that belied his
acquiescence.
"Do you belong to the party camped below?" inquired he of the rocking chair,
oneeyeglassfixedinthecomplacentface.
Theguiltymanconfessed.
"ThenIwanttoknowwhatthedeuceyoumeantbykickingupsuchaninfernal
rowlastnight.Icouldn'tsleepawinkforhours—notforhours,dashit.It'san


outrage—abeastlyoutrage.What!"
Themanwiththemonoclewassmugwiththeself-satisfactionofhistribe.His
thinhairwaspartedinthemiddleandafaintstraw-coloredmustachedecorated
hisupperlip.Altogether,hemightmeasurefivefeetfiveinhisboots.Theminer
looked at him gravely. No faintest hint of humor came into the sea-blue eyes.
TheytookinthedapperBritisherasifhehadbeenanaturalhistoryspecimen.
"Sokindlytellthemnottodoitagain,"DobyansVerinderorderedinconclusion.
"Ifyouplease,sir,"addedtheyoungwomanquietly.
Kilmeny'ssteadygazepassedforthefirsttimetoher.Hesawaslightdarkgirl
withamazinglyliveeyesandalifttothepiquantchinthatwasarresting.Hishat
cameoffpromptly.
"Wedidn'tknowanybodywasattheLodge,"heexplained.
"You wouldn't, of course," she nodded, and by way of explanation: "Lady
Farquharisrathernervous.Ofcoursewedon'twanttointerferewithyourfun,
but——"
"Therewillbenomorefireworksatnight.Oneoftheboyshadabirthdayand
wewereventilatingourenthusiasm.Ifwehadknown——"
"Kindlymakesureitdoesn'thappenagain,mygoodfellow,"cutinVerinder.
Kilmeny looked at him, then back at the girl. The dapper little man had been
weighedandfoundwanting.Henceforth,Verinderwasnotonthemap.
"DidyouthinkwewerewildUtesbrokeloosefromthereservation?Ireckonwe
weresomenoisy.Whentheboysgettogoinggoodtheydon'tquiteknowwhen
tostop."
The eyes of the young woman sparkled. The fisherman thought he had never
seenafacemorevivid.Suchcharmasitheldwastooirregularforbeauty,but
the spirit that broke through interested by reason of its hint of freedom. She
mightbeacagedbird,butherwingsbeatfortheopenspaces.
"Weretheygoinggoodlastnight?"shemockedprettily.
"Not real good, ma'am. You see, we had no town to shoot up, so we just
puncturedthescenery.Ifwehadknownyouwerehere——"
"Youwouldhavecomeandshotusup,"shechargedgayly.
Kilmenylaughed."You'reagoodone,neighbor.Butyoudon'tneedtoworry."


Helethiseyesadmireherlazily."Youngladiesaretooseldominthisneckofthe
woodsfortheboystohurtany.Givethemachanceandtheywouldberealgood
toyou,ma'am."
HisaudacitydelightedMoyaDwight."Doyouthinktheywould?"
"Inourownbarbaricway,ofcourse."
"Doyoueverscalppeople?"sheaskedwithinnocentimpudence.
"It'sayoungcountry,"heexplainedgenially.
"Ithasthatreputation."
"You'vebeenreadingstoriesaboutus,"hecharged."Nowwe'llbeonourgood
behaviorjusttoshowyou."
"Thankyou—ifitisn'ttoohard."
"They'regoodboys,thoughtheydoforgetitsometimes."
"I'mgladtheydo.Theywouldn'tinterestmeiftheyweretoogood.What'sthe
useofcomingtoColoradoifitisgoingtobeascivilizedasEngland?"
Verinder,properlyscandalizedatthisfreegiveandtakewithahaphazardsavage
of the wilds, interrupted in the interest of propriety. "I'll not detain you any
longer,myman.Youmaygetatyourfishing."
TheWesternerpaidnottheleastattentiontohim."Mygracious,ma'am,wethink
we'reaheapmorecivilizedthanEngland.Weain'tgotanymilitantsuffragettes
inthiscountry—atleast,I'venevermetupwithany."
"They're a sign of civilization," the young woman laughed. "They prove we're
stillalive,evenifweareasleep."
"We'vegotyoubeatthere,then.Allthewomenvotehere.What'sthematterwith
youstayingandrunningforgovernor?"
"CouldI—really?"shebeamed.
"Really and truly. Trouble with us is that we're so civilized we bend over
backward with it. You're going to find us mighty tame. The melodramatic
romanceoftheWestismostlyinstorybooks.Whattherewasofithasgoneout
withthecowpuncher."
"What'sacowpuncher?"
"Heridestherangeaftercattle."


"Oh—acowboy.Butaren'tthereanycowboys?"
"They're getting seldom. The barb wire fence has put them out of business.
Mostlythey'reworkingforthemovingpicturecompaniesnow,"hesmiled.
Mr.Verinderprefacedwithaformallittlecoughasecondattempttodriveaway
thisveryassurednative."AsIwassaying,MissDwight,Iwouldn'tmindgoing
intoParliament,youknow,ifitweren'tfortheballylabormembers.I'mrather
strongonspeaking—thatsortofthing,youknow.Usedtobeadabatit.ButI
couldn'tstandtheboundersthatgetinnowadays.Really,Icouldn't."
"AndIhadsocountedonthecowboys.I'mgoingtobedisappointed,Ithink,"
MissDwightsaidtotheWesternerquietly.
Verinderhadsenseenoughtoknowthathewasbeingpunished.Hehadtriedto
put the Westerner out of the picture and found himself eliminated instead. An
angryflushrosetohischeeks.
"That'sthemistakeyouallmake,"Kilmenytoldher."Thetrueromanceofthe
Westisn'tinitsclothesanditstrappings."
"Whereisit?"sheasked.
"Initsspirit—inthehopeandthecouragebornofthewideplainsandtheclean
hills—in its big democracy and its freedom from convention. The West is a
conditionofmind."
Miss Dwight was surprised. She had not expected a philosophy of this nature
from her chance barbarian. He had the hands of a working man, brown and
sinewybutuntorn;yettherewasthemarkofdistinctionintheleanheadsetso
royallyonsplendidshoulders.Hisbody,spareoffleshandnarrowofflank,had
thelithegraceofapanther.Shehadseenbeforethatlookofcompetence,ofeasy
self-reliance.Someofthemenofherclasshadit—NedKilmeny,forinstance.
But Ned was an officer in a fighting regiment which had seen much service.
Wherehadthistannedfishermanwonthemannerthatinheresonlyinaleaderof
men?
"AndhowlongdoesittaketobelongtoyourWest?"askedtheyoungwoman,
withtheinflectionofderision.
Buthermockerywasafraud.Inbothvoiceandfacewasavivideagernessnotto
bemissed.
"Time hasn't a thing to do with it. Men live all their lives here and are never
Westerners.Othersareofusinaday.Ithinkyouwouldqualifyearly."


Sheknewthatsheoughttosnubhisexcursionintothepersonal,butshewasby
natureunconventional.
"Howdoyouknow?"shedemandedquickly.
"That'sjustaguessofmine,"hesmiled.
A musical voice called from within the house. "Have you seen my Graphic,
Moya?"
Ayoungwomanstoodinthedoorway,agolden-whitebeautywithsoftsmiling
eyes that showed a little surprise at sight of the fisherman. A faint murmur of
apologyfortheinterruptionescapedherlips.
Kilmeny could not keep his eyes from her. What a superb young creature she
was, what perfection in the animal grace of the long lines of the soft rounded
body! Her movements had a light buoyancy that was charming. And where
underheavencouldamanhopetoseeanythinglovelierthanthispalefacewith
itscrownofburnishedhairsolustrousandabundant?
MissDwightturnedtoherfriend."Ihaven'tseentheGraphic,Joyce,dear."
"Isn't it in the billiard room? Thought I saw it there. I'll look," Verinder
volunteered.
"Goodofyou,"MissJoycenodded,hereyesonthestrangerwhohadturnedto
leave.
Kilmenywasgoingbecauseheknewthathemighteasilyoutwearhiswelcome.
He had punished Verinder, and that was enough. The miner had met too many
likehimnottoknowthatthemanbelongedtothefamilyofcommonorgarden
snob.Nodoubtherolledinwealthmadebyhisfather.Thefellowhadstudied
carefullytheshibbolethsofthesocietywithwhichhewishedtobeintimateand
was probably letter-perfect. None the less, he was a bounder, a rank outsider
tolerated only for his money. He might do for the husband of some penniless
societygirl,buthewouldneverintheworldbeacceptedbyherasafriendoran
equal.Thethoughtofhimstirredthegorgeofthefisherman.Verylikelytheman
might capture for a wife the slim dark girl with the quick eyes, or even her
friend,Joyce,choicestflowerinagardenofmaidens.Nowadaysmoneywould
doanythingsocially.
"Cheekiest beggar I ever saw," fumed Verinder. "Don't see why you let the
fellowstay,MissDwight."
The girl's scornful eyes came round to meet his. She had never before known


howcordiallyshedislikedhim.
"Don'tyou?"
Sheroseandwalkedquicklyintothehouse.
Verinderbithismustacheangrily.Hehadbeencherishingafictionthathewasin
lovewithMissDwightandmorethanoncehehadsmartedbeneaththelashof
hercontempt.
Joycesankgracefullyintotheeasiestchairandflashedadazzlingsmileathim.
"HasMoyabeenveryunkind,Mr.Verinder?"
HehadjoinedthepartyafewdaysbeforeatChicagoandthiswasthefirstsign
ofinterestMissSeldonhadshowninhim.Verinderwasgrateful.
"Dashed if I understand Miss Dwight at all. She blows hot and cold," he
confidedinaburstoffrankness.
"That'sjustherway.Weallhaveourmoods,don'twe?Imeanwepoorwomen.
Don'tallthepoetscredituswithinconstancy?"Theleastrippleofamusementat
hersexswelledinherthroatanddiedaway.
"Oh,byJove,ifthat'sall!Isay,doyouhavemoodstoo,MissJoyce?"
Herlongthicklashesfluttereddowntothecheeks.Wassheembarrassedathis
question? He felt a sudden lift of the heart, an access of newborn confidence.
DobyansVerinderhadneverdaredtolifthishopesashighasthefamousbeauty
Joyce Seldon. Now for the first time his vanity stirred. Somehow—quite
unexpectedly to him—the bars between them were down. Was it possible that
shehadtakenafancytohim?Hisimaginationsoared.
Foramomentherdeeppansyeyesrestedinhis.Hefeltasuddenintoxicationof
thesenses.Almostwithaswaggerhedrewupachairandseatedhimselfbeside
her. Already he was the conquering male in headlong pursuit. Nor was he
disturbedbytheleastsuspicionofhavingbeenfilledwiththesensationsandthe
impulsesthatshehadcontrived.
Miss Seldon had that morning incidentally overheard Lady Farquhar tell her
husbandthatDobyansVerinder'sfortunemustbenearertwomillionpoundsthan
one million. It was the first intimation she had been given that he was such a
tremendouscatch.


CHAPTERIII
NIGHTFISHING
JackKilmenycrossedtheriverbytheropeferryandfollowedthetrailthatran
up. He took the water above the Narrows, about a mile and a half from camp.
Themosquitoeswereprettybadnearthewillowsalongtheshore,butashegot
outfarthertheyannoyedhimlessandwiththecomingofdarknesstheyceased
totrouble.
Thefishwerefeedingandhehadafewstrikes.Halfadozeneightandnine-inch
troutwentintohiscreel,butthoughhewasfishingalongtheedgeofthedeep
water,thebigfellowswouldnotbetempted.Hiswatchshowedaquartertoten
bythemoonwhenatlasthehookedoneworthwhile.
HewasnowdownbytherifflesnotfarfromtheLodge.Alongcastbroughthim
whatfishermenalongtheGunnisoncallabump.Quietlyhedroppedhisflyin
exactly the same spot. There was a tug, a flash of white above the water, and,
likeanarrow,thetroutwasoff.Thereelwhirredasthelineunwound.Kilmeny
knewbythepressurethathehadhookedagoodoneandheplayeditcarefully,
keepingthelinetautbutnotallowingtoomuchstrainonit.Afterashortsharp
fighthedrewthefishcloseenoughtonetthestruggler.OftheLochlevenvariety,
hejudgedtheweightofthetrouttobeabouttwopounds.
Hewouldhavelikedtotryanothercast,butitwasteno'clock,thelimitsetby
law.Hewadedashore,resolvedtofishtherifflesagainto-morrow.
NextdaybroughtKilmenytheofficeofcampcook,whichwastakeninturnby
each of the men. Only two meals a day were eaten in camp, so that he had
several hours of leisure after the breakfast things were cleared away. In a
desultory fashion he did an hour or two of fishing, though his mind was
occupiedwithotherthings.


ThearrivalofthepartyattheLodgebroughtbacktohimvividlysomechapters
ofhislifethathadlongbeenburied.Hisfather,ArchibaldKilmeny,hadmarried
the daughter of a small cattleman some years after he had come to Colorado.
Though she had died while he was still a child, Jack still held warmly in his
heartsomevividmemoriesofthepassionateuncurbedwomanwhohadbeenhis
mother.
Shehadbeenabelleinthecowcountry,charminginherway,beautifultothe
dayofherdeath,butwithouteducationorrestraint.Herhusbandhadmadethe
mistakeoftakingherbacktoIrelandonavisittohispeople.Theresulthadbeen
unfortunate. She was unconquerably provincial, entirely democratic, as
unculturedashernativecolumbine.Moreover,hertemperwasofthewhirlwind
variety. The staid life of the old country, with its well-ordered distinctions of
classandruttedconventions,didnotsuitheratall.Attraditionswhichshecould
not understand the young wife scoffed openly. Before she left, veiled dislike
becamealmostopenwar.Thevisithadneverbeenrepeated,nor,indeed,hadshe
everbeeninvitedagain.Thisshehadbitterlyresentedandshehadinstilledinto
Jacktheantagonismsheherselffelt.WhenhewaseightyearsoldJack'sfather
had insisted on taking him back to meet his relatives. Immediately upon his
returntheyoungster'smotherhadsetaboutundermininganyfondnesshemight
havefeltforhisBritishkindred.Threeyearslatershehaddied.
Shehadbeenadotingmother,withfiercegustsofpassionateadorationforher
boy. Jack remembered these after he forgot her less amiable qualities. He had
grown up with an unreasonable feeling of dislike toward those of his father's
familywhohadfailedtogetalongwithher.Someinstinctofloyaltywhichhe
could hardly define set him unconsciously in antagonism to his cousins at the
Lodge.Hehaddecidednottomakehimselfknowntothem.Inafewdaystheir
pathswoulddivergeagainforalltime.
Dusk found him again in the river just above the riffles. He fished down the
streamslowly,shorteninghislineasdarknesssettledoverthehills.Hisluckwas
ratherworsethanusual.Thetroutwerenosingthefliesratherthanstrikingwith
anyappetite.
HewasnearlyoppositetheLodgewhenhenoticedafishermaninfrontofhim.
Workingsteadilyforward,Kilmenyfoundhimselfgainingontheother.Inorder
nottopasstoonearhestruckoutintothedeeperwatertowardthecenterofthe
river. When almost opposite the other he heard a splash not twenty feet away,
followedbythewhirrofthereelasthetroutmadeforthedeepwater.Fromthe
shadowswherehisunknowncompanionwasobscuredcametheclickoftheline


being wound up. There was a flash of silver in the moonlight, and again the
rapidwhirlofthereel.
"You'vehookedawhale,neighbor,"Kilmenycalledacross.
The voice that came back to him across the water was eager and glad. Jack
wouldhaveknownitsthrobofyouthfulzestamongathousand."MustIlethim
haveallthelinehewants?"
Kilmenywadedtowardherashegavecounsel."Don'tmakeittooeasyforhim,
butdon'tjerk.Keephisnoseupifyoucan."
The humming of the reel and the steady click-click-click of the winding
alternated.Thetroutfoughtgamelyandstrongly,buttheyoungwomanstuckto
herworkandwouldnotgivehimanyrest.Jackwatchedhercarefully.Hesaw
that she was tiring, but he did not offer any help, for he knew that she was a
sportsman.Shewouldwanttowinaloneornotatall.
Yethemovedcloser.Thewaterwasuptoherhips,andnoriverintheRockies
hasaswiftercurrentthantheGunnison.Thebottomtooiscoveredwithsmooth
slipperystonesandbowlders,sothatamisstepmightsendherplungingdown.
Deprivedoftheuseofherlandingpole,shecouldmakelessresistancetothetug
ofthestream,andthefourorfivepoundsofdynamicenergyattheendofher
linewouldgiveherallshecoulddototakecareofforthenextfewminutes.Her
polewasbracedagainstherbody,whichmadereelingdifficult.Themanbeside
her observed that except for a tendency to raise the pole too much she was
playinghertroutlikeaveteran.
The thing that he had anticipated happened. Her foot slipped from its insecure
rockholdandshestumbled.Hisarmwasroundherwaistinaninstant.
"Steady!Takeyourtime."
"Thanks.I'mallrightnow."
Hisrightarmstillgirdledherslightfigure.Itmetwithhisapprovalthatshehad
not cried out or dropped her pole, but he would not take the chance of an
accident.


"HE'SHOOKEDPRETTYFAST.TAKEYOURTIMEABOUTGETTING
HIMINTOYOURNET.THESEBIGFELLOWSARELIKELYTOSQUIRM
AWAY."P.33
"HE'SHOOKEDPRETTYFAST.TAKEYOURTIMEABOUTGETTINGHIMINTOYOURNET.
THESEBIGFELLOWSARELIKELYTOSQUIRMAWAY."P.33

Thetroutwastiring.Inchbyinchshebroughthimnearer.Sometimeshewould
dartawayagain,buteachdashforlibertywasshorterandweakerthanthelast.
Presentlyshepanted,"Mylandingnet."
It was caught in the creel. Kilmeny unfastened the net and brought it round
whereitwouldbereadyforinstantuse.
"TellmewhatImustdonow."
"He'shookedprettyfast.Takeyourtimeaboutgettinghimintoyournet,andbe
carefulthen.Thesebigfellowsarelikelytosquirmaway."
Itwasaticklishmomentwhensheletgooftherodwithherlefthandtoslipthe
netunderthetrout,butshenegotiateditinsafety.
"Isn'theawhopper?"shecriedindelight."Hewon'tgointothecreelatall."
"Thenletmehavehim.Thegloryisyours.I'llbeyourgillietocarrythegame
bag."
Hegothisfingersthroughitsgillbeforehetookthehookfromthemouthofthe
fish.Carryingthetroutinonehandandhispoleintheother,hewadedslowly
throughtheswiftwatertotheshore.
Thegirl'svibrantvoicecametohimasshesplashedathisheelstowardthebank.
"He'ssucharippinggoodone.I'msopleased.Howmuchdoyouthinkhewill
weigh?"
Theyoungmantookthecatchfarenoughbackfromtheriver,sothattheycould
examinehiminsafety.
"Myguessissixpounds.He'sthebiggesttakenthisyearsofar.Icongratulate
you,MissDwight."
"Iwouldneverhavegothimifyouhadn'tbeentheretohelpmewithadvice.But
Ireallydiditallmyself,didn'tI?IfyouhadtouchedtherodbeforeIhadhim
nettedI'dneverhaveforgivenyou,"sheconfessed,eyesglowingwiththejoyof
herachievement.
"It'snojoketolandoneofthesebigfellows.Isawyouweretired.Butit'sthe


sportingthingtoplayyourownfish."
Herdarkeyesflashedaquestioningglanceathim.Shehadbeenbroughtupina
society where class lines were closely drawn, but her experience gave her no
data for judging this young man's social standing. Casual inquiries of old
Ballard, the caretaker at the Lodge, had brought her the information that the
party of fishermen were miners from the hills. This one went by the name of
Crumbs and sometimes Jack. What puzzled Miss Dwight was the difficulty of
reconcilinghimwithhimself.Sometimesheusedthespeechandtheslowdrawl
oftheplainsman,andagainhespokewiththecorrectnessofonewhohasknown
good society. In spite of his careless garb he had the look of class. The wellshaped,lightlypoisedhead,thelevelblueeyesofamanunafraid,thegracewith
whichhecarriedhimself,alldeniedthathewasanuncouthrustic.
Ayoungwomanofimpulse,sheyieldedtoanaudaciousonenow."I'mgladyou
letmedothesportingthing,Mr.—Crumbs."
Hisgentlelaughterwelledout."Wheredidyougetthat?"
"Isn'tityourname?"sheasked,withaliftofthedarkeyebrows.
Hehesitated,barelyaninstant.Ofcoursesheknewperfectlywellthatitwasnot
hisname.Butitsuitedhimnottogiveonemoredefinite.
"I reckon it's a name good enough to bring me to dinner by," he drawled,
smiling.
He was back again in the Western idiom and manner. She wondered why. The
changehadcomewhenshehadspokenhisname.Acertainwarinesshadsettled
overhisfacelikeamask.Shecouldseethathewaspurposelytakingrefugein
theclassdistinctionsthatpresumablyseparatedthem.Yetshecouldhavesworn
that nothing hadbeenfartherfromhis mindduringtheexcitingten minutesin
thewaterwhilevoiceandpresenceandarmhadsteadiedherforthebattle.
Theywalkedtogetheruptheslopetothebighouse.Afishingcostumeisnota
thingofgrace,buttheonethisgirlworecouldnoteclipsetheelasticsuppleness
oftheslenderfigureorthejoyinlifethatanimatedthevividfacewiththeblack
curls straying from beneath the jaunty cap. The long hip waders she wore so
briskly gave her the look of a modern Rosalind. To deny her beauty was easy,
but in the soft sifted moonlight showered down through the trees it was
impossibleforKilmeny'seyestorefuseheranadmissionofcharm.Therewasa
hintofpleasantadventureintheduskyeyesofthisclean-limbedyoungnymph,a
plasticenergyintheprovokingdaintyface,thatstunghisreluctantadmiration.


Shehadthegiftforcomradeship,andwithitafreedomofmindunusualinone
ofherclass.
She ran up the steps of the Lodge lightly and thanked him with a pleasant
"Good-night." As he turned away Kilmeny came face to face with another
fisherman returning from the sport of the night. The man opposite him was
rather short and thickset. In his eyes was a look of kind shrewd wisdom. Redfacedandwhite-bearded,hewasunmistakablyanEnglishmanoftheupperclass.
MissDwightintroducedhimasLordFarquhar,andthemenshookhands.
"GuesswhatI'vegot,"demandedtheyoungwoman,herhandsbehindher.
"Heaven only knows. It might be anything from the measles to a new lover,"
smiledFarquhar.
Sheflasheduponhimthefishthathadbeenhiddenbehindherwaders.
"ByJove!Catchhimyourself?"
Shenodded,hereyesshining.
Farquhar, very much a sportsman, wanted to know all about it, after which he
insistedonweighingthetrout.Jack was draggedintotheLodgeto join inthis
function,andpresentlyfoundhimselfmeetingLadyFarquhar,apleasantplump
lady who did not at all conform to the usual stage conception of her part. Her
smilewaswarmforthissuppleblue-eyedengagingWesterner,butthelatterdid
notneedtobetoldthatbehindherfriendlinesstheinstinctofthechaperonewas
alert.TheoneswiftglanceshehadthrownatMissDwighttoldhimasmuch.
IntotheroomdriftedpresentlyMissSeldon,alatenovelinherhand.Incontrast
with her sheathed loveliness Miss Dwight looked like a young girl. There was
something very sweet and appealing in Moya's slim indefinite figure of youth,
withitssuggestionofdevelopinglines,butmostmenceasedtolookatherwhen
Joyceswamwithintheorbitoftheirvision.
Joyce Seldon was frankly a beauty in every line and feature. Her exquisite
coloring, the soft amber hair so extravagant in quantity, the long lashes which
shaded deep lovely eyes, satisfied the senses no less than the supple rounded
young body which was carried with such light grace. Kilmeny was not very
impressionable, but in her presence the world seemed somehow shot through
withanewradiance.Shelaiduponhimthespellofwomen.
Presently Dobyans Verinder dropped in with an empty creel and opened wide
supercilious eyes at sight of Jack. He was followed presently by Captain


Kilmenyandhissister,thelatteraprettyIrishgirl,quickoftongue,quickerof
eye,andreadyforanythingfromflirtingtofishing.
Fromthetalk,JackgatheredthatLordFarquharandMissDwighthadbettheir
catchwouldoutweighthatoftheotherthree,Farquharandshetofishopposite
theLodgeandtheothershalfamilebelow.Theminoritypartyhadwoneasily,
thanks to the big trout and Verinder's obstinacy in sticking to the flies he had
usedinEnglandwithsuccess.ThereisatypeofEnglishmanthatgoesthrough
lifeusingtheflieshewasbroughtuponandtryingtomakethemfitallplaces
andtimes.Anydivergenceisaformoftreason.NeitherFarquharnorKilmeny
happened to be of that kind. They besieged the American with questions and
soonhadaprettyfairideaoffishingontheGunnison.
"Ishouldthinkyouwouldaskme.IthoughtIwastheonethatcatchesthebig
fish,"suggestedMissDwight,whohadjustreturnedfromhavingchangedinto
moreconventionalattire.
"Makeahabitofit,mydear,andwewill,"LordFarquharassuredher.
"Once is enough, Moya. I can't afford a pair of gloves every evening," India
Kilmenyprotested.
"ByJove,leavesomeofthebigonesforus,MissDwight,"imploredthecaptain.
He was a spare wiry man, with the long clean build one expects to see in
soldiers. Long residence in India had darkened his skin to an almost coffee
brown,exceptforawintryappleredwherethehighcheekbonesseemedabout
topushthrough.
Supper,towhichLadyFarquharhadinsistedthattheAmericanstay,wasbeing
served informally in the living-room. Verinder helped himself to a sandwich,
oglingMoyathewhilewithhiseyeglass.
"Isay,youknow,Ibelieveinyou,MissDwight,"heasserted.
That young woman did not know why she resented more than usual his
wheedlingattentions.LadyJimhadinvitedthemillionairetojointheirparty,as
thegirlverywellknew, inordertogiveherchargesachanceathim.Notthat
LadyFarquharlikedtheman.Sheknewhimquitewellforanill-bredlittlesnob
atheart.Buthewouldpassmusterinacrowd,andnoneoftheyoungwomenof
thepartycouldaffordtosniffattwomillionssterling.Itwasentirelyprobable
that Joyce, with her beauty and her clear vision of the need of money in the
schemeofthings,wouldmarryaswellasifshehadamothertolookoutforher.
ButLadyJimfeltitherdutytoplanforIndiaandMoya.Shewasmoreanxious


Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay

×